Most Recent Posts
A story recently made the rounds through various websites, blogs and listservs dedicated to the parking industry, as well as hundreds of email inboxes owned by parking managers, consultants and executives.
As the story goes, the only parking attendant at a popular lot near the Bristol Zoo in England had recently announced his retirement after 25 years of service. Day in and day out, regardless of the weather and without fail, the humble gentleman would present himself at the 150-space lot first thing in the morning, well-dressed and ever cheerful, to collect £5 (about $7.70) from every driver as they entered.
Like many good parking attendants, this gentleman had built strong relationships with the parkers he saw day in and day out, including the Executive Director of the zoo. At the urging of his office staff, the director took it upon himself to organize a surprise retirement party at the zoo to honor the attendant upon his last day of duty. The director invited all of the lot’s regular customers as well as a number of local dignitaries, including the town’s mayor, to the party as well.
The party was great success, with many toasts and words of kind gratitude towards the recent retiree for his long term of service. Sometime in the evening, long after the guest of honor has retired for the night, the zoo director found himself at a table with the town mayor. Searching for a conversation starter, the zoo director ventured that he thought it might be quite challenging to find a replacement for the beloved parking attendant. The mayor agreed it would and inquired whether the zoo director had started his search yet. The zoo director replied that he had not started a search, as the gentleman is question was not a zoo employee, to which the mayor stated that he was certainly not on the town’s payroll.
Over the next half hour the two executives established that the recently good and loyal public servant had never been in the service of either organization or any group associated with the city or the zoo. Further investigation revealed that the lot was actually a vacant property and that the absent owner had no knowledge of its use as a commercial parking facility or record of every retaining the attendant. Most shocking, some quick math suggested that this humble attendant - who apparently was in business for himself - had collected a modest £6,825,000 ($10,510,500) over the span of his career!
Like a lot of great stories, a little internet research has revealed this one to be too good to be true. But this entertaining fiction has a large number of factual foundations. According to Google, parking goes together with scandal, fraud and embezzlement like campfires and ghost stories. Consider the following lead sentences from actual news items revealed in the same internet search:
As these scandals have come to light, the parking industry has responded in a number of different ways. Parking equipment manufacturers have introduced increasingly sophisticated and elaborate Parking Access and Revenue Control Systems (PARCS) equipment to track how users and money moves through a facility. Parking consulting firms have developed entire divisions dedicated to auditing parking facilities, identifying shortfalls in the internal controls and closing loopholes where the owner’s money can leak out. Many parking operators promote their own proprietary software systems, auditing programs and personnel screening procedures designed to provide an additional layer of security.
At VPNE, we are dedicated to revenue control and integrity. Our managers and executives participate in trade organizations like the National Parking Association, the International Parking Institute and the National Valet Parking Association to keep abreast of industry trends. We attend parking industry events like the New England Parking Council Spring Conference and the Parking Industry Exhibition to learn about advances in employee recruiting and screening. We regularly meet with PARCS manufacturers like Amano McGann and SkiData to keep current with the latest technological advances. We have our own independent internal auditors to review our operations and help train our managers in fiscal controls.
At VPNE we spend as much time, money and energy developing and caring for our people as we do on systems, equipment and procedures. We recruit and select only the best, brightest and most capable candidates after a careful screening and an extensive background review process. Once employed, we offer our staff compensation packages above the industry average and regular opportunities to supplement income through additional assignments. For those folks who want to grow with the company, we have multiple opportunities for growth and advancement including on-going training, tuition reimbursement and our management development program. We keep our people motivated with our Exceptional Service recognition program, which allows managers to hand out bonuses on the spot when they catch our employees going above and beyond. And we provide two-layers of management at every location to watch over every facility - - and the people who work there.
These are all important steps to making sure that every dollar your operator collects makes it into your account, but they are not the whole journey. State-of-the-art PARCS equipment, proprietary software and custom-designed procedures are just tools. To really have a solid, secure system, you need the right people using them. People who are intrinsically honest, reasonably compensated and motivated to do the right thing.
1 records found.